It’s hard to believe but the summer is quickly coming to an end and before we know it, school will be back in session, and the fall season will be here! With the fall, comes cooler temperatures, color changes in the leaves, and most importantly many delicious super foods will be hitting their peak! Today’s post will highlight a few of these super foods and their health benefits, so you’ll know what to look for come this fall!
Who doesn’t love a sweet, crunchy apple? Apples are a nutritional powerhouse. A medium sized apple contains a good amount (roughly 200mg) of the mineral potassium, which is needed for your body to maintain normal muscle growth, healthy digestion, and heart and brain function. Containing about 8.5 mg, an apple is also a good source of vitamin C. Vitamin C helps promote a healthy immune system meaning it can help your body fight off illnesses. Another benefit of eating apples includes its fiber content of about 4.5 grams in a medium sized apple. The skin of an apple contains insoluble fiber while the inside of an apple contains soluble fiber (I recently talked about fiber’s function in the body in my Overnight Oats post!). So you might want to think twice before peeling off the skin the next time you snack on an apple. 🙂
There’s so many ways to enjoy apples so get creative! I love pairing a fresh sliced apple with a TBSP or two of a healthy fat like nut butter, adding them to a spinach salad topped with feta cheese and a homemade dressing of extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. You can even bake them into a delicious baked apple dish topped with cinnamon, nutmeg, and a drizzle of honey!
Of course, we can’t think of fall without thinking of Halloween and jack o’-lanterns, but did you know that pumpkin has a great nutrient content and can be incorporated into a healthy diet?
Pumpkin is rich in beta carotene (i.e. what gives pumpkin its orange color). Your body converts this into vitamin A, which can aid in your vision health. Pumpkin is another great source of fiber, with about 3 grams/cup, thus keeping you feeling full longer while giving your body the added benefits of consuming enough fiber daily. Pumpkin is also seen as a very good source of iron, a mineral that is essential for the transport of oxygen throughout the body, which helps give us energy throughout the day. It also aids in our skin, hair, and nail health!
Pumpkin doesn’t have to only be consumed in pie form. From pumpkin muffins, pancakes, soups, breads, puddings, or simply baked pumpkin with a sprinkle of cinnamon and ginger, there’s plenty of ways you can integrate pumpkin into your diet! A simple Google search can give you an array of healthy options to try.
I feel as if I never see cauliflower inspired recipes. I typically always see broccoli as the cruciferous vegetable of choice, but cauliflower’s neutral flavor makes it so versatile in cooking, and it packs in a hefty amount of health benefits when added to your diet! Cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamin C and also contains adequate amounts of the vitamins A, K, folate, and choline (choline is an important nutrient that can enhance brain health!). Finally, cauliflower also is a good source of calcium and phosphorous, two minerals that are crucial for the health and formation of your bones and teeth.
With the versatility of this cruciferous vegetable, there are endless possibilities on how to incorporate it into your diet. Some ways I like to eat cauliflower is sautéed in a drizzle of EVOO, or slightly steamed with a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper. It’s also a great addition to omelets or pasta salads for an added crunch! If you want to get really creative, you can even blend it to create a mashed potato-like side dish!
Of course, this list is not inclusive of all the benefits of the foods listed above nor does it include all the wonderful super foods this fall will bring. Other great fruits and vegetables that will be in season include pears, butternut squash, pomegranates, brussel sprouts, and sweet potatoes to name a few! If any of these foods sound like something you may enjoy, don’t be afraid to integrate them into your diet. You may be surprised with how much you enjoy them!
*Disclaimer: As a friendly reminder, the information I write about is intended for educational purposes only. I encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns with your physician regarding your health and dietary needs, as the information I provide should not replace any medical advice. I write based on my own personal research and experiences.
Chen, Michael A. (2014). Potassium in diet. Retrieved from: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002413.htm
Sanders, L. M., & Zeisel, S. H. (2007). Choline: Dietary Requirements and Role in Brain Development. Nutrition Today, 42(4), 181–186. doi:10.1097/01.NT.0000286155.55343.fa
Watson, Stephen. (n.d.). What you need to know about iron supplements. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/lifestyle-guide-11/iron-supplements